Buck's Blog

The Stream-of-Consciousness Journal of a Wargamer
  • .: Welcome to my blog :.

    I'm John R. "Buck" Surdu. I have two Web pages that contain relatively static information about my professional life (including papers I've written) and my hobby life (including information about rules I've written and my wargaming projects). This blog is where I plan to post personal tidbits, like vacation pictures, wargaming projects, etc. Enjoy!
  • Recent painting results

    Posted By on December 6, 2016

    Two science fiction vehicles and a container of nuclear waste

    Two science fiction vehicles and a container of nuclear waste

    Things have been pretty busy at work, and it seems like the weekends have been jam packed with activities as well.  As a result, I haven’t gotten much painted lately.  This Sunday I had a few minutes, so I completed some things that had been sitting on the painting table for a couple of weeks.  The first two items were these two science fiction “computer cars.”  I found them at the local hobby shop.  I think they are for Infinity.  I don’t use slot bases, so I took the ones that came with the ducks (see below) and made a science fiction shipping container.

    Agent Peggy Carter

    Agent Peggy Carter

    I had been looking for this figure since the first Agent Peggy Carter miniseries.  Greg found it in a bin full of figures in the flea market at Fall In last month.

    A group of snow ducks

    A group of snow ducks

    In an earlier post, I provided pictures of these duck men from Rebel Miniatures.  I have been using them as the foundation of my gang in our Frostgrave games.  Everyone else has their Frostgrave figures mounted on snow bases.  I ordered a second set of figures, painted them, and mounted them on snow bases for our upcoming second Frostgrave campaign.

    Another group of snow ducks

    Another group of snow ducks

    I tried a few different things on the bases.  First, I painted the bases light blue.  Then I applied snow flocking.  On top of that I added a little of this white flakey stuff O got from Scenic Express.  When I sprayed the figures will dull coat, the white flocking became translucent, with too much of the light blue showing through.  So I dabbed on more glue and added more of the white flocking.  The look is okay, but not quite what I wanted.

    A final group of snow ducks

    A final group of snow ducks

    Combat Patrol(TM): Cowboys

    Posted By on November 22, 2016

    HAWK Zeb Cooke ran a cowboy game at last Friday’s club meeting using Combat Patrol(TM).  Players controlled posses, gangs, units, etc. vying for control of the town and possession of gold, cattle, and a saucy bar wench.  (I may have made up that last bit.)

    By all accounts the rules worked just fine for the cowboy period without modification.  All Zeb had to do was build unit records with different weapons on them to reflect the technology of the day.

    The little cards in the foreground represent cattle.  Zeb had printed cows on the tent-folded cards.

    There was a rules misunderstanding regarding shotguns that made them overly powerful in the game.  They were doubling the rate of fire on double barreled shotguns, but the base rules, written for WWII, assumed the rate of fire for pump-action shotguns.  Doubling the rate of fire from the base rules made them nuclear weapons.

    In the post-game kibitzing on the drive home, Duncan and I talked about whether the normal command radius should apply to cowboy games.  As I think on it, I think for units, like cavalry and infantry, they should still use the command radius.  For groups that would be essentially main characters in a movie, you could suspect the command radius or make it very, very generous.  I think in a cowboy game you want guys running all over the table causing mischief.

    We had a couple of new gamers who had not played Combat Patrol(TM).  I was playing in another game at the time, but I heard that they both enjoyed the game and picked it up quickly.

    Flint and Feather Indians

    Posted By on November 22, 2016

    I purchased three bags of Pulp Figures Indians at Historicon in a pre-order deal.  These are meant to be for the Flint and Feather rules by Howard Whitehouse.  The game takes place between warring bands of Indians before the arrival of Europeans.  These have been 75% done for three months, awaiting me to prioritize them high enough in the queue to finish them.

    There were 15 poses in all.  A couple seemed to be so close as to be duplicates — but not quite.

    I haven’t played Flint and Feather yet.  I understand it is much like Battle Troll or Outlaws of Sherwood, also by Howard Whitehouse.  Those are very fun games with just a handful of figures, so I’m sure that Flint and Feather is similar and equally enjoyable.  I plan to use these Indians for games against early settlers armed with arquebuses and pikes.

    Completed Some Warlord 28mm Poles

    Posted By on November 22, 2016

    I often have figures on the table that are partially painted.  Then in one good painting day, I’ll finish a bunch, leading to a feat or famine feeling to this blog.  Yesterday afternoon I managed to finish some 28mm WWII Poles from Warlord that have been partially painted for about a month.  I had hoped to finish them in time to use them in my Combat Patrol(TM) games at Fall In, but I didn’t get them done in time.

    These figures are from the Polish headquarters set.  This set includes a light mortar, two anti-tank rifles, a light machine-gun, a medic, and a couple of officer figures.

    In previous posts I have shown my Polish armored train from Sarissa Precision.  I was looking for a Bofors anti-aircraft gun to mount on top of it.  Warlord makes one for the BEF, but not for the Poles.  When I ordered the gun, Warlord generously included a sprue of Polish heads.  I swapped the heads to create this Polish anti-aircraft gun.

    I haven’t finished the base yet, and I still need to paint the tires.  The gun comes off the ground most and will fit on the armored train.  I can use it in games as either ground mounted or mounted on the train.

    Making Nice-Looking Game Markers

    Posted By on November 22, 2016

    Resultant game markers

    Resultant game markers

    Conventions are meant to foster the free exchange of ideas.  Greg, one of the guys in our gaming group, saw at Fall In 2016 that the folks in Canada who play a lot of This is Not a Test made nice game markers.  He told me about it, and when I returned from the convention, I ordered the bottle cap covers and hole punch from Amazon.

    Clear plastic bottle cap covers

    Clear plastic bottle cap covers

    Apparently girls are making jewelry from bottle caps.  I understand that people even sell bottle caps that were never on a bottle but have pretty designs.  To protect the paint on the top of the bottle cap, someone started producing these self-adhesive, clear, slightly bevelled bottle cap covers.  They are made form a very soft rubber and come in sheets.

    Another view of clear plastic bottle cap covers

    Another view of clear plastic bottle cap covers

    I made some markers in Power Point and printed them on card stock.  Then I used a one-inch hole punch to cut them out nicely.  I peeled the clear bottle caps from the plastic sheet and stuck them to the markers.  The result looks pretty nice.  Be careful when remove the covers from the plastic; if you touch the sticky side, you will leave finger prints.

    Combat Patrol(TM) at Fall In 2016

    Posted By on November 17, 2016

    Poland 1939 game using Combat Patrol(TM) at Fall In 2016

    Poland 1939 game using Combat Patrol(TM) at Fall In 2016

    There were a number of Combat Patrol(TM) games at Fall In 2016.  The breadth of the games showcased the flexibility of the system.  The number of younger players who caught onto the systems quickly demonstrates the ease of the rules.

    I scheduled two iterations of a Poland 1939 skirmish involving a Polish armored train.  WWII is, of course, what Combat Patrol(TM) was designed to replicated.

    Dave Wood ran a Zulu game using his modifications for colonial warfare.  This free supplement should be available in a month or so after a few more play tests.

    All of the players seemed to pick up the rules quickly.  I don’t think there were any players in the game who had used the rules before.  A couple of players didn’t get into the fight right away, which was more a scenario design issue than a rules issue.

    I really like the feel of Dave’s changes.  When the Brits can find cover or form up, they are hard for the Zulus to defeat, but if the Zulus catch them strung out or in the open, it can be very bad for the British.  That feels right to me.

    Greg ran Combat Patrol with Star Wars figures.  This will also be a free supplement in the near future.  In fact there will likely be an original trilogy (and perhaps Rogue One) supplement and a Clone Wars supplement.

    These youngsters caught onto the rules quickly and had a terrific time.

    The Rebels were trying to take an important droid across the tables.  The Imperial troops with the AT-ST’s and other heavy weapons tried to stop them.  It was a close run affair, but the rebels eeked out a victory.

    If you missed playing Combat Patrol at Fall In, we’ll be running several games using the rules at Cold Wars.  Come and see what all the buzz is about.

    There is more information about the rules, including how-to videos, at the rules’ Web site.

    Fall In 2016 Report

    Posted By on November 9, 2016

    I intended to arrive in the mid-afternoon on Thursday, but then we scheduled an interview for a potential hire late Thursday afternoon.  I still thought I might make it in time to run a Fate of Battle game for the HAWKs Thursday evening, but events conspired against me.  When I arrived, I was still angry and needed to calm down before gaming.  Instead of minis we tried a new card game I bought, called Smash Up.  We may have been doing some things wrong, but I think we were starting to get the hang of it toward the end.  Greg brought some Scotch that his had donated to the HAWKs, called Monkey Shoulder, and that helped smooth over the rough edges of our knowledge of the game rules.

    Greg and I had the full breakfast at the Continental before heading over the host.  Friday morning I found that the new Host ownership had an odd way of managing the key to the Paradise room, but eventually we go the door unlocked.  Eric and I were running the same scenario, Heilsburg, 1809, on the same table.  My game was first, Friday morning, using Fate of Battle, and Eric’s was later using modified Regimental Fire and Fury.  Eric set up all the terrain for both games, which made my prep for the game much easier.  I was surprised that the game was full and that everyone who signed up showed up for a 0900 game on Friday.  The game went quite well.  All the players were engaged early and had a good time.  The Russian cavalry under the command of someone new to Fate of Battle ground forward against the French cavalry commanded by a guy named Jeff who plays a lot of LSNC.  Initially the Russian left, commanded by HAWKs room regular, Donald, chose to advance, but when two of three Russian brigades retreated, the French went on the attack.  The Retreating Russians recovered and returned to the fight in time to stop the French attack.  Though the Russians were beginning to drive the French out of the town, the arrival of the “fresh” Russian infantry made the outcome an inevitable Russian victory.

    I spent some time in the flea market and dealer hall on Friday afternoon.  The big find for me was a batch of 1:50(ish) scale WWII tanks.  Greg also found a loose figure in a bin that will be painted as Peggy Carter before my next pulp-era game.  I had asked Battlefield Terrain Concepts to bring additional hedgerow, and I purchased more of that.  Otherwise, I spent a bunch of time kibitzing and wandering around.

    I set up my Poland 1939 armored train game for Friday night and helped Greg set up his Star Wars game — both using Combat Patrol.   I was surprised that my Friday morning game filled, and I was just as surprised that my Saturday night game had not a single player attend.  Was it in the PEL?  I think it was.

    Anyway, that gave me a chance to play in Kurt’s A Union So Tested game.  I didn’t know the scenario, so I volunteered to let the new player command the Union force that I thought would see most of the action.  Then three of us entered the table on the Union flank.  This was as much of a surprise to me as it was to the Union commanders.  The game played really well, with the Yanks doing a good job of slowing the Reb advance toward the key crossroads.  The Yanks held a forward salient too long, which didn’t allow them to lengthen their left flank, so I was pushing around it when time ran out, and Kurt called the game a Union victory.

    After a little kibitzing and setting up for Saturday morning, Greg, Dave, and I headed back to the Continental to watch a few episodes of Tom Baker Doctor Who with Leela before hitting the sack.

     

    Saturday morning, Dave and I went for a 3.5 mile run, and then the three of us had breakfast at the Continental again.  My Saturday morning Polish armored train game was overly full, so some of the standby HAWKs weren’t able to play.  The German objective was to capture the train to move it off the road, not to destroy it.  There is notionally a large German formation coming down the road, and the force in the scenario was the advance guard sent to clear the route.  We had a good mix of experienced Combat Patrol players and newbies.  Duncan took the one German squad on the table that didn’t have a vehicle, and for several turns he was the only visible enemy to many of the Polish defenders, so he received a lot of “love.”  On the German right, their two Pz. 38(t)s and two vehicle-mounted infantry squads tried to push around the Poles, but found the Polish defenders tough to dislodge.  The Poles did a pretty good job using their mortar to inflict some damage on the Germans.  Fortunately for the German tanks, the Poles had positioned their anti-tank gun on the other side of the table.  This is where the Germans tried to slip two halftracks full of infantry around the Polish right.  The anti-tank gun knocked out one of the halftracks, but the other slipped past.  The squad in the disabled halftrack dismounted and got involved in a long, unproductive firefight with a Polish squad in some nearby woods.  Half of this German squad failed morale and ran off the table.  The halftrack that got around the Polish defenses got to the train.  The artillery in the turret turned to knock out the halftrack, so one of Kurt’s tanks fired at it — getting the word result possible.  Recall that the Germans needed to be able to move the train off the road, but Kurt hit the undercarriage of the train car straddling the road, penetrated, and brewed up the car.  This would have made it hard to move the train later.  The Germans got infantry into the cab of the train, so I called the game a German victory.  I was gratified at how many of the folks who had never played Combat Patrol seemed to pick it up easily and were largely self-sufficient after a couple of turns.

     

    Again, I had a few hours to wander the flea market and dealer hall, but there wasn’t a lot of time between my Polish game and when we planned to being setting up our Saturday evening game, so mostly I sat around and kibitzed.

    Dave, Chris, and I ran the battle of Lvov Saturday evening.  This is a large game that we’ve run several times, including for the 114th Signal Battalion for one of their Senior Leader Development events.  The scenario is somewhat what-if in nature, as it involves the Russians and Germans conducting a coordinated attack on the town of Zboiska on the outskirts of Lvov.  While the Germans and Russians were both nearby, there was no simultaneous attack historically.  In addition to defending Zboiska, the Poles were also ordered to capture a nearby ridgeline and knock out the artillery that was shelling Lvov.  Duncan and a father-son team launched three infantry battalions up Graff-break Ridge.  They took very heavy casualties, almost two and a half battalions.  Duncan let the newbies get decimated while he advanced put he ridge against an beat-up defender, but he was still unable to knock out the guns before the game ended.  (By the way, the players were having such a good time that we played an extra hour!)  Dave and a newbie to LSNC played the Germans and crashed into Duncan’s cavalry screen, wiping out four of five companies by the end of the game.  Dave’s panzergrenadiers got bogged down trying to root Duncan out of his second line of defense, but the newbie, a guy named Hutch, got some of his infantry into the town.  On the other end of the table, Mike and Chris were the Russians trying to bypass Kurt and roll over Donald to seize the town.  Donald’s light Polish tank battalion was no match for Mike’s wall of steel.  While Mike killed every single Polish vehicle on the table, Chris pushed a few stands of infantry into Zobiska.  The victory conditions were based on the number of full (undamaged) bases in the town as well as the status of the ridgeline.  In the end, the Poles received two victory points, but the Russians and Germans didn’t receive any.  So after a hard-fought defense, the Poles eeked out a victory.  I think this might have been the most interesting iteration of Lvov we have run.  I was a little disappointed that we only had four non-HAWKs for a 12-player game, but all the non-HAWKs seemed to have an excellent time, and I think the HAWKs had fun as well.  It certainly made being a GM pretty easy.

     

    I had bid $60 for a batch of painted WWII Americans in the Toys for Tots auction.  As I have picked up WWII figures here and there I find that I am short of plain riflemen and have too many submachine guns.  I thought this was a silent auction and that I had won the bid, but when I went to go claim the figures and pay I was dismayed that my winning silent bid was merely the starting bid for another traditional auction.  I guess I don’t understand the purpose of the silent auction.  I was disappointed at the way it played out.  There was a guy in the crowd who seemed to snipe at most winning bids with an extra five dollars.  I guess it’s for a good cause, but I won’t be doing the auction again.

    Sunday morning Dave and I went for another run before breakfast at the Continental.  I normally run a chariot race game on Sunday mornings, but I hadn’t planned to run a Sunday game this year.  I hit the flea market again.  I rarely find anything of interest on Sunday, but this time was different.  In the flea market I found two of the Litko buildings I use in Granville, my pulp-era town.  They were already assembled and nicely painted for less than the unassembled kits.  Did I need two more buildings?  No, but what the heck?!  I wandered around the dealer hall, picking up some stuff from terrain bits Scenic Express and chatting with folks in the aisles.  By the time I returned to the HAWKs room, all three HAWKs-run games were well underway, so I just spent time talking to Mike and watching the three games.

    After Eric and Dave cleaned up the HAWKs stragglers went to Brooklyn pizza for a nice lunch before the long drive home.  All in all, this was a good con for me.

    Painted Some Vehicles this Weekend

    Posted By on October 10, 2016

    Friday was HAWKs night, and Saturday was spent at the Fall Foliage Festival in Bedford, PA, but I did manage to get some vehicle painted on Sunday for Combat Patrol(TM).

    The first vehicles I finished are these halftracks from Blitzkrieg Miniatures.  They are from their line of 1:48 scale vehicles for gaming with 28mm figures.

    I am not a military modeler, so my vehicles don’t have the level of detail and weathering that those guys put into their vehicles, but they are good enough for gaming.

    I also completed this M-3 Grant tank.  I have always liked the clunky look of this tank, but I don’t game North Africa.  While researching the upcoming Japanese supplement for Combat Patrol(TM), I discovered that many of the Lee and Grant tanks were sent to the Pacific when they were no longer useful in the Mediterranean or Europe.  They were more than capable of knocking out Japanese tanks (though I’m not sure there were any tank-on-tank engagements involving them) or Japanese defensive positions.

    While I was painting the US vehicles, I also painted this goofy looking thing from an old G.I. Joe toy.  I will use it in science fiction games using Combat Patrol(TM).

    These Pz. II’s are also from Blitzkrieg Miniatures.  I need to paint the wooden axe handles and the tow cable, but these are largely completed.

    I also completed these Sd.Kfz. 222 reconnaissance vehicles.

    Given all my other activities the past few days and a bad head cold, it was a pretty productive hobby weekend.

    Combat Patrol(TM) in the Philippines

    Posted By on October 8, 2016

    The overall position from the American perspective

    The overall situation at the start of the game from the American perspective

    Last night at our club we played a Combat Patrol(TM) game featuring Americans fighting Moros in the Philippines.  The Americans had to get a mule train full of supplies across the table, but the Moros were trying to intercept the supplies.  We used the under-development Pacific supplement to represent Moro morale.

    The American mule train

    The American mule train

    Moros advancing through cultivated fields to get their hands on the supplies

    Moros advancing through cultivated fields to get their hands on the supplies

    The Americans chose to go “up the middle” rather than either hanging back to create a defensive perimeter or going either right or left to attempt to avoid some of the Moros.

    Moros advancing toward the rocky outcropping

    Moros advancing toward the rocky outcropping

    The Americans were caught in the middle of the table.  Because of this, and the constricted terrain, the Americans were unable to take advantage of their firepower.  The Moros were able to close.  Their melee attribute was very high, so once they closed into hand-to-hand, the Moros won the majority of the firefights.

    The scrum begins to develop in the center of the table

    The scrum begins to develop in the center of the table

    An American team fired a shot into the rocky outcropping in which the overall Moro leader had taken position.  The Americans got a hit, and an incapacitation result, despite the cover provided by the rocks.  In Combat Patrol(TM), once you hit a target (by drawing a card and consulting the hit indicator section), you then draw a second card to determine which figure is hit, how severely, and whether cover protected the figure.  The card drawn had no cover icons, so the Moro leader was incapacitated.

    Americans trying to establish a defensive perimeter as they are beset from all sides

    Americans trying to establish a defensive perimeter as they are beset from all sides

    With the overall leader gone, all of the subordinate Moro units were pinned.  The Activation Deck has black and red cards in it.  When a unit is pinned, it can only activate on the black cards.  This severely limited the Moros for a couple of turns, during which the Americans were able to regroup and establish a perimeter.  During this time, the Americans also had some good card draws in hand-to-hand combat.  The Americans, who began the game outnumbered two-to-one, were beginning to redress a lopsided loss exchange ratio, but not in time.  The Moros had seized the mule train and were well on their way off the table with it when we called the game a Moro victory.

    Chaos in the Philippines

    Chaos in the Philippines

    We used the draft Japanese Morale from the under-develoment supplement to reflect the fanatical nature of the Moros.  I also gave them a Melee attribute of four, compared to the Americans’ one.  The Moros, however, had few rifles and had to depend on closing into hand-to-hand combat to carry the day.

    Bill's platoon leader in the thick of the action

    Bill's platoon leader in the thick of the action

    All in all, I think the rules worked quite well for this period.  I think it felt about right for the Philippines.  Look for a Moro supplement in the foreseeable future.

     

    Combat Patrol(TM) on Meeples and Miniatures

    Posted By on October 5, 2016

    Combat Patrol(TM) is featured on the Meeples and Miniatures hobby podcast, episode 180.  See: https://meeples.wordpress.com.  This was a very pleasant experience.  Neil Shuck and the crew were very amiable. I think the interview came out very well.  See what you think…